On the river Volga, which freezes over in winter, the Kazan Kremlin lies exactly on the spot where the river changes its course from east to south. Inside its ancient walls prevails a peaceful atmosphere. Only a few metres away from each other are the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Kul Sharif Mosque. When the Russian Ruler Ivan the Terrible seized Kazan in 1552, destroying the mosque and building the cathedral.
In the 1990s, the mosque was rebuilt in memory of the Tartars who fell during the conquest of the city. Regardless of the militant opposition, architectural elements of the respective other culture can be found in both buildings. The Kazan Kremlin thus bears witness to the fruitful relationship that has existed for centuries between the Tartar and Russian cultures. With its many towers, gables and roofs from different architectural periods, it recalls a richly decorated cake. For the Tartars the area in front of the Sujumbike Tower is holy. This is where the Tatar Khans, the original rulers of Kazan, were buried. Once I accompanied a group of Nogaians, a tribe related to the Tatars, to the burial place and I saw them crying. They felt the connection of their culture with this place. It was very moving. Today the Kremlin is also the venue for many modern cultural events such as music festivals and art exhibitions.
As told to by Maria Galland
Translated by Jess Smee